Today is the feast day of St. Thomas Aquinas, Italian Dominican priest, whose influence on the study of philosophy, ethics, natural law, and theology is still felt today throughout spheres of both Catholic and secular thought. Born in the Kingdom of Naples to a noble family around the year 1225, Thomas determined by the age of 19 that he wanted to join the Dominican Order, facing intense pressures from his family (and even imprisonment at the family castles) not to do so. He eventually traveled to Paris to study under St. Albert the Great. He proceeded to teach in Cologne and Paris before being summoned back to Italy to assume duties for the Dominicans. In 1265, he came to Rome at the summons of Pope Clement IV, who asked him to serve as papal theologian. It was during this time in Rome that he began work on the Summa Theologica, his most revered work. From Rome, he traveled back to Paris for a second time to teach, and eventually took leave to return to Italy, where he spent the remainder of his days preaching, writing, and teaching.
It is said that in December 1273, a Dominican sacristan saw Thomas levitating in prayer, tears in his eyes, before an image of Christ at the Crucifixion. “You have written well of me, Thomas,” Our Lord said to him. “What reward would you have for your labor?” Thomas responded simply: “Non nisi te, Domine: Nothing but you, Lord.”
In March of the following year, near a Cistercian Abbey in Fossanova, Italy, he took ill after striking his head on the branch of a tree. When he received the last rites from the monks of the abbey, he prayed, “I receive Thee, the ransom of my soul. For love of Thee have I studied and kept vigil, toiled, preached and taught…” He died shortly thereafter, on March 7, 1274. He was canonized fifty years after his death, on July 18, 1323.
Thomas’s feast day is celebrated in the liturgical calendar on this day. His patronages include, but are not limited to: academics, apologists, Catholic academies, schools and universities, learning, scholars, students, and theologians.
Why not ask the intercession of St. Thomas today for success in your work and study?